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Two new moves announced today are expected to attract significant new investment into UK tree planting projects designed to help combat climate change.
Planting new forests and woodland helps to counteract the greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas. As trees grow they capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store the carbon as wood and organic matter, whilst releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. Commercial interest in investing in tree planting for carbon capture in this way is increasing, but until now there have been neither standards against which to measure the carbon capture claims, nor a mechanism to report the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
A new Woodland Carbon Code, launched today by the Forestry Commission, provides a consistent national approach as well as clarity and transparency to potential investors about just what their money should buy them.
In addition, Defra has today issued new government guidance on how organisations should report greenhouse gas removals and emissions from UK woodland planting where a project meets the requirements of the Woodland Carbon Code.
Welcoming the moves, Pam Warhurst, Forestry Commission Chair, said:
”Tree planting projects are attractive to organisations on a number of levels: they can reduce their carbon footprint at low cost, improve the environment, and enhance their environmental reputation. It’s a win, win, win situation for smart organisations.
“We now have the means to capitalise on some very significant funding opportunities and attract very welcome new woods and forests for everyone’s benefit.”
To comply with the Code, woodland projects must be responsibly and sustainably managed to national standards, use set methods for estimating the carbon that will be captured, be independently certified, and meet transparent criteria and standards.
Project providers must register with the Forestry Commission, stating the exact location and long-term objectives of their projects. Once approved, projects will appear in a national, on-line register.
The UK’s woodland absorbs about 2 per cent of our annual emissions of greenhouse gases, but with increased planting, they have the potential to soak up much more and further help to mitigate climate change. The independent Read Report, commissioned by the Forestry Commission to examine the potential of the UK's forests to mitigate and adapt to our changing climate, concluded that woodland creation provided a highly cost-effective and achievable means of abating greenhouse gas emissions.
More information on the Woodland Carbon Code is available at www.forestry.gov.uk/carboncode.
More information on how organisations should report their greenhouse gas emissions and removals, including those from UK woodland creation, is at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/economy/business-efficiency/reporting/
Notes to Editors:
- 2011 is International Year of Forests.
- The Woodland Carbon Code sets out good-practice requirements in terms of sustainable forest management (based on the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard) and carbon finance (where key requirements include additionality and permanence). It uses rigorous and consistent forest carbon measurement protocols to measure carbon uptake in woodlands. New carbon look-up tables and a carbon assessment protocol have been developed by the Commission’s Forest Research agency. The code also establishes a system of independent carbon certification by organisations accredited for this purpose by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS). Schemes that meet requirements will be able to use a Woodland Carbon Code label. (‘Additionality’ refers to the requirement to demonstrate that a project could not take place without the carbon funding; in other words, it is additional to woodland planting that would have happened anyway.)
- The Woodland Carbon Code makes a distinction between 'carbon offsets' that can be traded on international carbon markets and 'carbon reduction actions' taking place in the UK. This is because, in common with most Annex 1 (developed) countries, accounting procedures and the complexities of 'Kyoto rules' prevent tradable carbon offsets from being generated in the UK.
- The Woodland Carbon Code logo is a Registered Trade Mark.
- Organisations wanting to report emissions and removals associated with woodland creation should use the Defra guidance in conjunction with the Woodland Carbon Code. This should ensure that organisations that report on domestic woodland creation projects in future will do so on a consistent basis. Annex G of the Defra Guidance already covers international offsets.
Media contact: Charlton Clark 0131 314 6500